Starting Solid Food For Babies:
OMG !! What should be the first solid food..? Is it a banana, avocado, idli, Apple, rice. ..?? We do have too many choices but I know it's difficult to decide ..! But the first year of starting solid food is crucial as it sets the tone for the rest of the life. Starting solid food helps in preventing medical problems like obesity, hypertension, diabetes, allergies, diarrhoea etc..
So this one will help you ease the confusion.
When is the kid ready?
Usually, the kids are ready around 6 months of age when you find them trying to put everything in their mouth. It’s a sign of teething too. But some kids find breast milk sufficient even if it’s exclusive until 8 months or so. No matter how much you try they will be reluctant to eat solids. So go with what the baby wants and continue the breastfeed. You can Start solid food slowly but never force the child because it makes them associate that bad experience to the food every time, in turn making them aversive to food.
What are the usual recommended Starting Solid Foods?
The most common ones are a banana, avocado, and in countries like India, it’s usually Apple, pear, muskmelon, and sometimes rice and dal. Banana is most commonly available and since it need not be sterilised it can be mashed and fed whereas Apple, muskmelon and pears should be steamed and mashed. Even avocado can be fed directly but in India, it is not that commonly available.
Vegetables like carrots, sweet potato, potato are also used. They should be boiled, made into a puree and served. Brown rice is recommended as it is rich in vitamins. And if u want to make the rice a little tastier since you don’t add the salt or ghee, you can roast them and make it into a powder. The same applies to dal as well. You can start with sugar dal and avoid moong dal for a first few days. Starting solid food with only rice which is made into a puree and then after 2 days add the top layer of water formed on the dal before you feed the actual dal. This prevents any allergies.
Slowly after you know that the kid is not allergic to any of them, then you can start boiling rice, dal and vegetables together without adding salt or ghee and then make them into a puree..trust me it tastes delicious than u imagine. The more vegetables you introduce the more nutrition the kid gets and the combination of vegetables is up to your imagination. Initially, to make it tastier you can add a carrot piece to most of the other vegetables.
How do I Start the Solid Foods?
Usually, for the first month, we recommend that the baby is given solid food only in the morning around 7 to 8 a.m.Later in the 7th month, you can start feeding them 2 times a day, with the second feed probably before 6 p.m.By 8th month you can add a third feed at around 4.00 PM. But make sure the dinner is a little early around 7.00 p.m. Early dinner helps with digestion.
Now here comes the tricky part as to how long do u have to wait before starting solid food.
The usual recommended time is to wait 2 days after you introduce a new solid food. The next two days is basically to wait and watch for any change in bowels or allergies by continuing the regular breastfeed. If everything seems good then you can add another food and then wait for 2 days before you give it again. Meanwhile, you can continue the breastfeed along with the previous food which you have already introduced to which the child didn’t show any allergy.
So basically the first 2 months go by starting each solid food slowly. This is to identify the particular food which the child is allergic to, because if we give new food every day and a child gets an allergy or a change in the bowels, you will be confused as to what to stop.
What food should I avoid? Are there any DO’ s and DON’T s?
Yes, we recommend that you avoid salt and sugar or any ghee products until 8 the months. The child requirement for the salt and sugar are very less. It is present in the vegetables and the water we use to cook them unless you are from an iodine deficient area or the kid is hypothyroid, for which you can add a little bit of iodized salt to the food.
Anything extra will put an unnecessary strain on da kidneys leaving them at risk of hypertension. Oats, ragi, barley, wheat may be avoided till the month to prevent any gluten sensitivity. Hypothyroid kids should also avoid excessive consumption of cabbage, cauliflower, and radish. Since they have a substance that decreases the thyroid levels further. Eggs are better avoided till 1 yr. But if you want to start, you can start with an egg yellow and not the egg white. The non-vegetarian FOODS can be introduced after 1 year.
What about Fruit juices?
Yes, you can give them as early as the 6th month. But the initial dilution of fruit juice to water is 1 in 10 until the 7th month as too much of the acids from the juice might affect the child’s teeth. Later on until the 10th-month dilution should be 1 in 5. And in the 11th and 12th month the dilution is 1 in 2. By the end of 1 yr, the kids can be given direct juice. The juices usually recommended are orange and pomegranate which are made by squeezing them in a sterilized cloth which acts a filter.
How do I know When to Stop and How Much to Feed?
There is no specific quantity as to how much a kid feeds and it varies from baby to baby. The kids are capable of knowing when they are full starting from the first day of birth. So if they are refusing to eat, we shouldn’t be forcing them thinking it’s too small a quantity. They should be enjoying their food and not get the aversion to it. Forceful feeding is a big no.
Forcefully fed babies have a trouble stopping the food and are at risk of obesity when they grow up. These kids are also prone to eating more in response to stress. As long as the child is healthy and active, you need not worry about weight or height unless it's 80 % below the normal. You make it more interesting by changing different recipes and try to avoid diverting the child when they are eating using iPads or TV. It’s good if the kids are provided with their own table and chair when they are being fed and you eat with them too. Giving finger foods like an apple or any other will help them appreciate the different textures of the foods.
Till When Do I Continue Purees? Shouldn't the kid learn to chew?
This also depends on each kid. Some eat purees till 8th month and some till one yr. The finger foods you give in between will help them chew. You shouldn’t hurry on changing it to a mashed texture because you want them to learn faster. They will go at their own pace. But you will rarely see any kid eating purees after 1 yr. It will get better with time and kids don’t get used to it even if they are eating them for more than 1 yr. The fact that they are enjoying different foods is more important than how they are eating. Once in a while eating from our plate when they are around 9 months will introduce them to different textures.
How do I introduce spices?
They can be introduced in the same way as the vegetables or fruits. You just have to keep adding one by one with a gap of 2 days when you are boiling the vegetable or fruits. You can remove before making it into a puree. Start introducing them at 8th month. Nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves are rich in potassium and are very good for the digestion. You can start one by one.
What about the breastfeed when I am giving solid feeds? Should I compensate with milk if my child skips any meal?
No, not necessarily. The breastfeed can be given on demand after the introduction of solid feeds as well. Even if it’s a formula feed you can still give at the regular intervals and skip one at the time of solid feed. Once in a while when the child starts becoming more active, they refuse to eat food or skip a meal. So it is OK to skip a meal once in a while and if you don’t compensate with formula or breast milk, the kid will be hungry for the next solid feed and hence eat better. One meal if you skip you are not doing any harm by depriving of any nutrients…so just take a chill pill… 😉
You might notice that I am not talking about the ready-made baby food because I am a kind of a mom who believes in giving the food in a natural way. And also I believe that these products although they make it easy for the parents to feed their kids. It basically deprives them of the ability to appreciate different foods, their tastes and textures.
What I have typically explained is suitable for all the kids even the kids who are hyperactive as it involves foods with a low level of stimulants like sugars. As the food is introduced slowly the risk of allergies are also minimal.
So start right now. Set the tone from the beginning and let them binge on street foods or bakeries once in a while without worrying about putting on weight or getting infected.
REMEMBER U ARE A MOM.
And you need not be